Nicotine is the chemical in tobacco that keeps you smoking. Nicotine is very addictive when delivered to the lungs by inhaling tobacco smoke. It increases the release of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, which help regulate mood and behavior. One of these neurotransmitters is dopamine, which may improve your mood and activate feelings of pleasure. Experiencing these effects from nicotine in tobacco is what makes tobacco so addictive.
Nicotine dependence involves behavioral as well as physical factors. Behaviors and cues that you may associate with smoking include:
- Certain times of the day, such as first thing in the morning, with morning coffee or during breaks at work
- After a meal
- Drinking alcohol
- Certain places or friends
- Talking on the phone
- Stressful situations or when you're feeling down
- Sight or smell of a burning cigarette
- Driving your car
To overcome your dependence on tobacco, you need to deal with the behaviors and routines that you associate with smoking.
Jun. 04, 2013
- Cigarette smoking. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/tobaccocancer/cigarettesmoking/cigarette-smoking-toc. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- Guide to quitting smoking. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/guidetoquittingsmoking/index. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- Questions about smoking, tobacco and health. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/tobaccocancer/questionsaboutsmokingtobaccoandhealth/questions-about-smoking-tobacco-and-health-intro-and-background. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- DrugFacts: Cigarettes and other tobacco products. National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cigarettes-other-tobacco-products. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- Horn K, et al. Effects of physical activity on teen smoking cessation. Pediatrics. 2011:128:e801.
- Schroeder SA. New evidence that cigarette smoking remains most important health hazard. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2013;368:389.
- Child and teen tobacco use. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/tobaccocancer/childandteentobaccouse/child-and-teen-tobacco-use-child-and-teen-tobacco-use. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- Rigotti NA, et al. Benefits of smoking cessation. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- Preventing tobacco use among youth and young adults: A report of the surgeon general — Executive summary. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/2012/index.htm. Accessed April 16, 2013.
- Danovitch I. The clinical assessment and treatment of nicotine dependence. Focus. 2011;9:15.
- Frequently asked questions about quitlines. Smokefree.gov. http://www.smokefree.gov/quitlines-faq.aspx. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- Quit guide: Clearing the air. Smokefree.gov. http://www.smokefree.gov/quit-guide.aspx. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- Find tools to help you quit. Smokefree.gov. http://www.smokefree.gov/tools.aspx. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- A report on the surgeon general: How tobacco smoking causes disease — The biology and behavioral basis for smoking-attributable disease fact sheet. Surgeongeneral.gov. www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/tobaccosmoke/factsheet.html. Accessed April 18, 2013.
- Ebbert JO (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 23, 2013.
- Nicotine replacement therapy labels may change. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm345087.htm. Accessed April 26, 2013.
- Hurt RD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 15, 2013.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.